by Veatch Ophthalmic Instruments
| Wednesday, May 5, 2021 |
With vaccination numbers on the rise, more patients are returning to the office for routine eye exams as well as surgical procedures they had been putting off during the pandemic. The resulting increase in the number of patients visiting your practice means that patient flow is now more important than ever.
What is patient flow?
Patient flow refers to how seamlessly your patients are able to move through your practice—from their initial arrival, to their time spent in the waiting room and the exam room, to the moment they check out at the reception desk. Good patient flow not only improves the efficiency of your practice (which, in turn, increases revenue) but it also maximizes time spent with your patients and plays a pivotal role in overall patient satisfaction.
What are some ways to improve patient flow?
Caring for a larger volume of patients while still offering the same degree of professionalism and skill is absolutely possible; it simply requires some forethought and planning. In fact, with the necessary equipment and the right processes in place, your ophthalmic office could be running more economically than ever. The following suggestions should help provide a starting point for your business.
- Examine your current system. Before you begin making changes to the way your office runs, you may need to establish a better understanding of your current system. Poor patient flow can often be traced back to inefficient processes, but the better you are at managing your overall schedule, the better the outcome will be. Drawing a flow map of how patients currently move through your office can help identify areas where delays are most common. From there, you can implement strategies to accelerate patient flow and increase efficiency; this may be as simple as creating separate check-in and check-out areas, or dividing your waiting area space by appointment type.
- Appreciate time management. Once you have your plan established for each day, you should feel more comfortable taking on a larger volume of patients. Here is where time management will be critical. Recall protocols and appointment reminders can be essential, as missed appointments plague many practices. Make sure you have an efficient system for checking patients in and out, particularly if your front desk staff are responsible for numerous tasks, such as answering phones, scheduling appointments, and collecting payment. Finally, delegate tasks whenever possible to your technicians. Collecting patient histories, administering drops, routine education, and intraocular pressure checks can all be entrusted to your technical staff.
- Hire only the best team. Seamless patient flow is difficult to achieve without a qualified, highly efficient team. Taking the time to recruit and hire the best people for the job will ensure that your staff members are communicative, respectful, and productive. When every member of your staff is working to improve the efficiency of your practice, this will ultimately serve to move patients along like clockwork throughout the day.
- Let technology do the work whenever possible. Making sure every member of your team can effectively operate the equipment in your office is essential for improving efficiency. Although some ophthalmic equipment can only be used by trained professionals, technological innovations are making it easier than ever to automate and manage everyday administrative tasks. When bringing on new staff members, be sure to make equipment training part of the onboarding process.
As your schedule increases in the months ahead, improving patient flow will become more important than ever. Fortunately, examining your current processes, embracing time management, and hiring the right staff can all contribute to a more productive system.
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